If you are a developer, regardless if it is on Android, iOS or Windows Phone, there are guidelines. Those guidelines tell developers how things are to function in their app, how things are to be laid out and how big things are suppose to be in it. The idea is to provide a uniform user experience regardless of the app the user happens to be in at the time. Google, when it comes to Android, is no different but when it comes to the guidelines around icon sizes in the launcher, developers haven’t always adhered to the rules. So Google is forcing the issue. In the latest update to the Google Now launcher and the Google Search app, icon sizes are uniform thanks to a change in the software the reduces the size of larger-than-they-should-be icons.
With the update, which is rolling out now to the Google Play Store, regardless of the size of the icon that the developer has created for their app, the Google Now launch will enforce a size limit on it, shrinking it down to the guideline sizes per the design guide. If it sounds draconian, it is a little bit but to be fair Google isn’t doing anything that Apple or Microsoft doesn’t do already. For their part, Apple will simply reject your app if your icon is larger than it should be and the same holds true for Microsoft. Google has been a bit more lax on it to this point but it would seem those days are over.
So why as an end user would you care? Aesthetics mostly but also by having icons a uniform size, it lowers the chance of you accidentally “side touching” an icon when you meant to open the app next to it.
Google Now Update Brings Back Auto Rotating
If you don’t really care about the icon shenanigans then the other new feature in this update will get your attention. The Google Now launcher is now supporting auto-rotating to landscape mode. With the update, if you turn your device to landscape, the launcher will shift to landscape mode and not stay in portrait mode. This is something that many users were requesting, especially those
who were in the beta of Android Marshmallow last year. In the beta builds, this feature was there but for some reason it did not make it to the final release.
For those who have a Nexus device, you will need to get the update to the Google Search app to enable these new features. You are looking for version 18.104.22.168 for those keeping score at home. If you have a non-Nexus device (or a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet) you will need both the Google Search app update and the Google Now Launcher app and set the launcher as your default.
The update is rolling out now so if you have these apps installed already, you can expect an OTA update to them over the course of the next couple of days.